Tradition – noun [truh-dish-uhn]
1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.
2. something that is handed down: the traditions of the Eskimos.
3. a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting: The rebellious students wanted to break with tradition.
4. a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.
5. a customary or characteristic method or manner: The winner took a victory lap in the usual track tradition.
Recently discussing tradition with a Sunday school classmate he brought this story of a woman he knew:
The woman would make her meatloaf, mix it up with the eggs, and other ingredients particular to her family’s recipe – the recipe itself being a handed down tradition for generations. She seasoned the meat and preheated the oven to the right temperature, just as her mother did. Before placing the loaf of beefy goodness into the pan to be baked, she cut the ends off of the meat log and then placed the remaining portion in the pan. Into the oven the concoction goes where it will cook into a delicious entrée.
“So I asked her,” my friend said. “Why do you cut the ends off of your meatloaf? Aren’t the ends the same ingredients as the rest of it?”
Without hesitation she replied, “That’s the way my mother does it and that’s the way I do it.”
Days later the woman, herself, became interested in why the ends of the loaf were cut off before baking. She called up her mother to get to the bottom of this meaty mystery.
Without hesitation her mother responded, “Well sweetie, that’s the way my mother did it and so that’s the way I do it.”
Still not satisfied with that answer, the woman dealt with this pickle in her head until Saturday – the day she usually spends with her grandmother at the nursing home. While visiting her grandmother, following breakfast and grandmother’s shower, the inquisitive cook decided to pose the question to the tradition’s originator. As she brushed her grandmother’s hair, she said, “Grandma, why do we all cut the ends off of our family meatloaf recipe?”
Without hesitation Grandma turned around in her chair, grabbed the hairbrush from the youngster’s hand and gave the proper response. “Well, I don’t know why you young-uns do it, but my pan was too short so I cut the ends off to make it fit in there.”
Three generations of meatloaf eaters were robbed of what could have been the end pieces due to a small pan that caused a tradition to start. A child watched and probably helped her mother making the recipe over the years and grew up to make it for her family exactly the same. This tradition transfers to the next generation and so on with no reason or explanation.
We humans have all kinds of traditions – things that are handed down from previous generations. Whether cultural, familial or handed down by heroes or other role models, we all have things that we’ve picked up from someone else and continue practicing them in our everyday lives.
On this journey, which is a two-part adventure, we will look at dictionary definition number 3, and dive into the tradition of sin. This tradition goes back to the first generation of humans – Adam and Eve. In Genesis, it states that Adam was given authority over all living creatures. I believe that meant he had the ability climb up high to check on the various species of birds, trees and fruit, as well as, dive deep into the river to watch over the aquatic life. But even with this, he, nor she, had the ability to withstand the power and deception of sin. That tradition has made its way into all of our lives. Generation after generation, we humans cannot withstand the power and deception of sin.
The tradition of sin is “a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting” without failing. None of us is without sin. Only Jesus Christ lived a life without sin, which is what gave Him the ability to shed His blood and forgive us of our sins.
Whether you have accepted Jesus’ forgiveness or not we all fall into traditions of sinning. While trying to live a Christ-like life, I find that there are certain sins that I used to be guilty of habitually trying to seep their way back into my life. In my former life, I had a particular sin that I had taken part in several times a day. This sin was higher than God in my life, thus making me constantly guilty of breaking commandment number one: You shall have no other God’s before me – Exodus 20:3 (New International Version).
Sin is a human addiction and we play right into its hands. Sin starts picking at our flesh and we scratch it. Sin takes that scratch and turns it into a scab. Sin takes that scab and turns it into an open wound. Sin takes that open wound and burrows itself beneath our skin. Sin digs deep into our bodies and manifests into our own destruction – scratching and scabbing and wounding and burrowing and destroying our soul from the inside out.
Sin is an inherited tradition. Sin was handed down from their forefathers to our forefathers to our fathers and now to us. Our brother and sister humans suffer from the same afflictions we have managed to overcome. We feel for them as we watch them cutting off the ends of the loaf, missing out on the best part. We feel for them as we witness them conducting the same sinful addiction handed down from the elder generation, missing out on the best part of life.
“Best part of life,” you ask? And, “Yes,” I reply.
We’re no longer talking about the best part of the meatloaf. The best part of life referred to above comes when Jesus forgives you of your sins, and points you in a direction that breaks your old sinful dependence and cravings and, yes tradition of sin. Following Him will dissuade you from entertaining those old customs and will veer your life toward new routines. He will show you routines of love and forgiveness; customs of Christian fellowship and friendliness; traditions of character and habits of prayer and praise to God. He will vindicate you in your triumph over sin’s enticement.
Does that mean you won’t be tempted by your old ways and habits? Does evil give you a free pass from falling back into the old you?
Absolutely not!
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ – Colossians 2:8.
This verse isn’t talking about the traditional meatloaf; it’s talking about staying on guard from people and things that will turn you from your walk with Christ. There will be those who handed the tradition down to you who want you to still take part in sinful customs. They will sin in front of you if you let them. They will show you sin; they will let you smell it and they will taunt you with it. They will bring up how much fun you all used to have sinning. But more than what they will do is what evil tries to do inside you. There will be thoughts of your old sin – thoughts that make you think it was more pleasurable to give in to sin. There will be thoughts of those handed you your first sin tradition, your friends or family who you used to sin with. The peer pressure those around you will put you through is nothing compared to the pressure evil will put you through trying to get you back into your sinful practices.
But if you look to Christ; if you hold steady; if you fail to waiver; if you don’t blink when confronted by your old sin; if you suffer through the tempting; if you continue to look to Him for hope; if you pray and persevere, then you will come through temptation with vigor; with strength; with power over your old sinful ways. Most importantly, you will come through it with Christ by your side and your sinful past behind you.
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us – Romans 5:3-5.